Invitation to integrate your processor for free on the ESA Heritage Missions Virtual Lab

Following the launch of the ESA/ESRIN Heritage Missions Virtual Lab hosted on the EarthConsole® platform last week, we would like to invite you to submit proposals for innovative algorithms and techniques to process Heritage Missions data to be made available as on-demand processing services via the lab.

If your processor will be selected by ESA/ESRIN, it will provide other interested researchers with the opportunity to analyze and review the data processed by your processor for their own research goals, in a joint effort to advance together in the study of environmental phenomena impacting our planet.

Once selected the processors, EarthConsole® team of experts will manage and supervise the integration process from start to finish. You will only have to focus on validating processing results.

Proposing your processor is easy – simply join the Heritage Missions Virtual Lab and use the dedicated I-APP form to submit your proposal.

The deadline for submissions is the 31st of May 2023.

For any further information, please have a look at this invitation.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at with in cc.


Banner: satellites images © ESA
Heritage Missions orbiting the Earth

Introducing the ESA Heritage Missions Virtual Lab on EarthConsole®

We are excited to announce the launch of the ESA Heritage Missions Virtual Lab hosted on the EarthConsole® platform powered by Progressive Systems. This virtual space offers customized data processing services to harness the inestimable legacy left by the Heritage Missions, all accessible via single sign-on.

If you are not familiar with Heritage Missions, they consist of over 45 non-operational earth observation missions, including cornerstone ESA missions such as the European Remote Sensing satellites, ERS-1 and ERS-2, and ENVISAT. These missions acquired data from various optical, radar, and atmospheric instruments for over 40 years.

As you can imagine, the preservation of data coming from these missions is of key importance for the ongoing environmental research on our planet. When combined with data from new satellites, Heritage Missions data provides a unique opportunity to look back in time and build long-term data series on a diverse range of applications such as climate change, sea levels, surface temperatures, melting ice, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, atmospheric composition, deforestation, urban mapping and much more.

That’s why we have collaborated with ESA to create this Lab which offers research centers and universities the chance to gain a deeper understanding of the evolution of Earth dynamics over time, by leveraging Heritage Missions data and related processors.

We have made sure to maintain the unique features of EarthConsole® intact, that means ensuring the processing capacity and data are co-located. This reduces the time taken for data transfer and enables completion of scalable processing campaigns within the stipulated time frame of research projects.

The Lab lets you:

  • Perform bulk processing campaigns (supervised by EarthConsole® experts) or on demand processing tasks (unsupervised and independently managed by the user) with the Small BAseline Subset – SBAS processor provided by IREA, a scientific and technological research institute belonging to the largest Italian research institution, the National Research Council (CNR). The service provides the possibility to generate soil deformation maps and time series from ERS and ENVISAT data. Additional processors will be integrated in the future.
  • Develop, test algorithms and do post-processing activities on a ready-to-use virtual machine with instant cloud data access, software for Heritage data analysis & visualization already installed and flexible computing resources and storage.
  • Receive expert support to integrate, in principle, any additional processors.
  • Access a set of tools to network and share research results with colleagues: a forum, a repository of processed datasets, and a library with relevant publications and media for consultation.

If you plan to use the lab services for research, educational, or pre-commercial purposes, you may be eligible to submit a sponsorship request to the ESA Network of Resources. If your application will be successful, it would allow you to receive a voucher that may fully cover the costs of the services.

Join the ESA Heritage Missions Virtual Lab today and take advantage of this exceptional opportunity.

To register, simply follow the provided instructions and forms to request the service. And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at with in cc.

Stay tuned for updates and the upcoming not-to-be-missed invitation to propose your processor to be integrated into the Lab!


This is a project supported by the ESA Network of Resources initiative.

Application of Differential SAR interferometry techniques for the estimation of snow properties in the Italian central Apennines area

EarthConsole® Stories are experiences about how we helped universities, research centres or service developers to leverage earth observation data to extract valuable insights for their research, educational or pre-commercial projects.


The Project

Snow-mantle extent (or area), its local thickness (or height) and mass (often expressed by the snow water equivalent, SWE) are the main parameters characterizing snow deposits. Such parameters result of particular importance in meteorology, hydrology, and climate monitoring applications. Anyway, in the general case, the considerable geographical extension of snow layers and their typical spatial heterogeneity makes it impractical to monitor snow by means of direct or indirect in situ measurements, suggesting the exploitation of satellite technologies.

Space-borne SAR sensors, such as those operating in Sentinel-1 mission, are particularly suitable for the analysis of snow deposits, providing data with resolutions up to some meters, with global coverage and 6-day revisit time.

SAR backscattering power coefficient can be used to study the effects of backscattering at the air-snow interface, at the snow-ground interface, together with the volumetric effects of the snow layer. The distinction between wet and dry snow can be obtained exploiting the co-polar and cross-polar SAR returns. Differential Interferometric SAR (DInSAR) can be exploited to analyze the effects of air-snow refraction and the snow-ground reflection, together with the coherence and phase-shifts between two sequential images.

The project activities are oriented towards 4 main objectives:

  1. development of a processing chain which, starting from the DInSAR measurements available from Sentinel-1, CSK and SAOCOM, together with fusion with auxiliary data from VIS-IR radiometric measurements and physical-electromagnetic SAR response models, using analytical, Bayesian techniques and/or physically-based neural, both able to estimate the snow cover (SCM, Snow Coverage Map), the depth of the snow layer (Snow Pack Depth, SPD) and the equivalent in snow water (Snow Water Equivalent, SWE) in the Central Apennines at a resolution around 100 m;
  2. creation of a forecast chain that, starting from the SMIVIA (Snow-coverage Modeling, Inversion and Validation using multi-mission multi-frequency Interferometric SAR in central Apennine) products of SCM, SPD and SWE, using the Alpine 3D dynamic snowpack model on the Abruzzo region, forced by forecasting of the Weather Research & Forecasting (WRF) meteorological numerical model and snow precipitation estimates from meteorological radar on the ground, is able to predict in the following 24-48 hours the state of the snowpack and its properties at a resolution of 1-3 km;
  3. validation of the SCM, SWE and SPD estimates with in-situ measurements on the pilot and verification sites identified in the central Apennines (Gran Sasso and Calderone glacieret, Campo Felice and the mountains of L’Aquila), carried out using multifrequency georadar sensors, radio meteorological remote sensing sensors, chemical-physical sensors and meteo-snow sensors also on the area of the Calderone glacieret;
  4. application of the processing and forecasting chain to an inflows / outflows model for the management of water resources and to the issuance of the avalanche danger alert over extended regions on the basis of quantitative maps at 24-48 hours in advance.

Backscattering coefficient, Coherence and Interferometric Phase

The Need

Satellite data cover large areas at different resolutions and were considered as the perfect candidates to correct snow cover models using gridded data from coarse to fine resolutions. Optical data for example can give information of snow cover extent and albedo, whereas with DinSAR techniques it is possible to estimate the snow height variation between different dates, or even the snowpack liquid water content.

SAR data processing can be performed in different ways to retrieve snow parameters. SAR backscattering power coefficient can be used to study the effects of backscattering at the air-snow interface, at the snow-ground interface, together with the volumetric effects of the snow layer. The distinction between wet and dry snow can be obtained exploiting the copolar and cross-polar SAR returns. Differential Interferometric SAR (DInSAR) can be exploited to analyze the effects of air-snow refraction and the snow-ground reflection, together with the coherence and phase-shifts between two sequential images.

Why EarthConsole®

The EarthConsole® G-BOX service has been selected for this project and used thanks to a sponsorship received from the ESA Network of Resources initiative.

G-BOX has been chosen since it is a Cloud Virtual Machine (VM) which features high flexibility for the configuration (CPU/RAM/DISK) and provides pre-installed software specific for EO data processing.

Picture of Gianluca Palermo, PostDoc Researcher at Sapienza University

The virtual machine proved to be the optimal solution for our data processing needs thanks to the customizable configuration options combined with pre-installed software, global accessibility and embedded access to the datasets offered by the Copernicus Data and Information Access Services – DIAS.

The project impact

The project takes advantage of multi-mission interferometric SAR techniques in L, C, and X bands and focuses attention on a geographic region particularly sensitive to climate change, namely the central Apennines where the southernmost glacier in Europe, the Calderone glacier, is located.

This research might potentially have impact on various aspects of environment and society, including provision of useful information in terms of avalanche warning, monitoring of climate change evolution, flood forecasting and water volumes expected for the hydric supply.



Palermo, E. Raparelli, P. Tuccella, M. Orlandi and F. S. Marzano, “Using Artificial Neural Networks to Couple Satellite C-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometry and Alpine3D Numerical Model for the Estimation of Snow Cover Extent, Height, and Density,” in IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing, vol. 16, pp. 2868-2888, 2023, doi: 10.1109/JSTARS.2023.3253804.

EarthConsole® selected as service provider for two OCRE funded research projects

EarthConsole® by Progressive Systems was chosen as the preferred service provider for two research projects awarded through the OCRE (Open Clouds for Research Environments) call for funding Earth Observation services. These projects required extensive processing campaigns for different objectives using processors from the SARvatore (SAR Versatile Altimetric TOolkit for Research & Exploitation) family of processors. These processors were integrated by Progressive Systems into the ESA Altimetry Virtual Lab on the EarthConsole® platform in 2021, following the previous ten-year experience as RSS G-POD operator at the European Space Agency.

With this long-term processing heritage, EarthConsole® was the clear choice for the research institutions leading the projects. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the details of these exciting projects and how EarthConsole® plans to contribute to their success.

The supported projects

Project: CryoSSARinSAM+
Research Institution: Technical University of Denmark – DTU SPACE (Denmark)

The Polar regions are important to study for a number of reasons. In an era of climate change, melting ice is expected to accelerate sea level change. In the past, various research groups have processed the first 9 years (2010.07-2020) of Cryosat radar altimetry for the Polar Oceans independently, using EarthConsole® or using the G-POD On Demand platform computing services. To continue this vital timeseries up through 2023 and also extend the Polar regions coverage to all regions outside the 50 degree parallel, this project was established.

CryoSSARinSAM+ aims at developing a common processing chain configuration to produce a single, open-access CryoSat-2 altimetry mission dataset that can support radar altimetry research of the polar oceans (both for the northern and southern hemisphere).

This dataset will have a wide range of potential applications, such as studying sea level, circulation, and trends in ice-covered polar seas; improving algorithms to monitor coastal sea level; estimating the thickness of summer sea ice; measuring significant wave height in polar oceans; and enhancing measurements of winter sea ice thickness in the Arctic and Antarctic, among other.

We want this dataset to become a reference standard for the radar altimetry research community, playing a pivotal role in advancing our knowledge of the polar oceans and ice cover, and the impact of climate change on them. A number of research institutions have been onboard designing this study and will directly ingest these data in their ongoing research

Ole B. Andersen
Professor, Department of Space Research and Technology
Geodesy and Earth Observation

Project: Assessment of renewable wave energy resources in the coastal zone using high-resolution altimetry products
Research Institution: CENTEC (Centre for Marine Technology and Ocean Engineering), Instituto Superior Tecnico , (Associação do Instituto Superior Técnico para a Investigação e Desenvolvimento) – IST-ID, (Portugal)

The project’s primary objective is to evaluate the potential of wave renewable energy sources in the Atlantic Ocean, with a particular emphasis on the coastal region, where the energy can be efficiently harnessed. To achieve this objective, the project is processing the whole CryoSat, Sentinel-3A, and Sentinel-3B missions data over specific coastal zones and using an improved geophysical retrieval algorithm: SAMOSA+ (Dinardo et al. 2018, Dinardo 2020).

The datasets generated through this project are expected to have a multitude of applications, ranging from evaluating renewable energy sources to gaining a better understanding of the impact of waves on the rise of sea levels. We want this project to benefit the whole altimetry research community, this is why the findings will be shared as we complete the project

Sonia Ponce de Leon A.
Assistant Researcher
CENTEC-IST-University of Lisbon


Why EarthConsole®

EarthConsole® has been selected as the optimal service provider to perform the processing activities requested by the projects.

With the ESA Altimetry Virtual Lab (AVL) hosted on the platform, EarthConsole® provides the necessary services and solutions to cater to the specific needs of the altimetry research community.

The ESA Altimetry Virtual Lab is hosting SARvatore for CryoSat-2, SARINvatore for CryoSat-2, and SARvatore for Sentinel-3 processors, among others. These processors will be used to reprocess CryoSat-2 altimetry mission data (CryoSSARinSAM+) and Sentinel-3A & Sentinel-3B data (Assessment of renewable wave energy resources in the coastal zone using high-resolution altimetry products) on specific areas and periods of interests indicated by the research institutions.

EarthConsole® utilizes flexible computing resources such as Worker Nodes, CPU, and RAM, in combination with a quick access to data on a Copernicus DIAS infrastructure. This minimises the impact of data transfer on processing time, enabling scalable processing campaigns to be completed within the projects’ time constraints.

In addition, EarthConsole® experts will oversee all processing activities, freeing up researchers from the task of managing the processing campaign and IT infrastructure, allowing them to focus on their research goals.

In conclusion, EarthConsole® has once again demonstrated its commitment to providing innovative solutions that add value to altimetry research. With the needed processors, flexible computing resources, the quick access to the Copernicus datasets, and the right expertise, researchers can confidently pursue their research objectives, knowing that they have a reliable partner to support their efforts.



EarthConsole® P-PRO On Demand for fast EO data access and rapid processing

EarthConsole® has been designed to assist users throughout the different phases of their research project, offering support services along the whole process from algorithm development and testing to massive processing campaigns. All this while ensuring a high degree of scalability of the processing capacity to create flexible services which help researchers to:

  1. overcome the need of implementing their processing capability in their own research infrastructure
  2. save costs and time on processing activities and
  3. improve their efficiency on the research project they are undertaking.

With this goal in mind, in early 2022 we have launched P-PRO On Demand, the EarthConsole® service providing the capacity to process online and on-demand EO data from ESA and non-ESA missions. The P-PRO On Demand platform is a flexible platform where you can perform small processing tasks and multiple tests by configuring the area of interest, the time window and customizable processor input parameters according to your requirements and autonomously, thanks to a user-friendly and intuitive interface.

P-PRO On Demand in a nutshell

Choose the processor from a set of ready to use services

In principle, any processor can be integrated in P-PRO and associated with a dedicated ready to use on-demand service (for more info see I-APP). During these first months of operations , upon processor owners’ requests, some integrations have been already successfully carried out. Therefore, at present the P-PRO On Demand application catalogue includes L1b & L2 customisable processors, enabling Sentinel-1 GRD IW and EW, Sentinel-2 L1C, Sentinel-3 SRAL and Cryosat-2 SIRAL SAR & SARin & FF-SAR data processing.

You can select the processor you need to perform your processing tasks from a set of services ready for use:

  • ALES+ SAR Retracker – developed by the Technical University of Munich,
  • FF-SAR (Fully Focused SAR) for CryoSat-2 and Sentinel-3 – developed by Aresys srl,
  • SARINvatore for CS-2, SARvatore for CS-2, SARvatore for S3 – developed by the ESA-ESRIN Altimetry Team
  • TUDaBO SAR-RDSAR – developed by the University of Bonn
  • Sen2CorSNAC – SNAP S-1 GRD Amplitude Change

P-PRO ON DEMAND processing services

And more processors are to come, also provided by users. Thanks to the P-PRO On Demand infrastructure flexibility, it is possible to integrate new processors which are not currently available in the platform. By resorting to the I-APP service, it is possible to request the integration of your own processor, and freely decide to keep it private or share it with the EarthConsole® community.

Select an area of interest and a time window

Next, thanks to the interactive web interface, it is possible to draw an area of interest, select the acquisition time and one of the available input EO data collections.

P-PRO ON DEMAND - area of interest and acquisition time

It is then possible to configure the processor parameters according to your requirements, and submit the task, to launch the processing.

Monitor the whole processing in real time

Following the submission of the job, P-PRO On Demand allows you to monitor the status of the processing tasks in real time and in complete autonomy. Once the processing has been completed you can easily access the task’s log files and results from the task history dashboard.

P-PRO ON DEMAND - Processing Monitoring

How to get started

You can request the service by filling in the form at this link, which will be assessed by our team. Usually each user will be allocated 500 credits (corresponding to 500 processing hours). In case you have specific needs, you can request up to 2200 credits, by specifying the reasoning of your request.

If you have a research, development or pre-commercial project, P-PRO On Demand may be accessible free of charge in the framework of the ESA Network of Resources initiative. Our team provides complete support to submit a sponsorship request for your project, allowing you to benefit from EarthConsole® services at no additional cost for you.

More information is available here.

In addition to the NoR Framework, EarthConsole® services are also available via the OCRE Earth Observation Catalogue for Research. If you are an OCRE EO funding for research winner, EarthConsole® may be selected as a service provider for your research project. More information is available in this blog post we published last March.

For more clarifications, contact us at

EarthConsole® on the OCRE Earth Observation Catalogue for Research

EarthConsole® has been registered in the OCRE Earth Observation (EO) Catalogue for Research and its offering may now be selected by EO funding for research winners.

OCRE (Open Clouds for Research Environments) is a Horizon 2020 project funded by the European Union that aims to enable and facilitate research institutions to use commercial digital services in a safe and easy manner.

EO and cloud-based services offer the European research community a wealth of powerful tools, but for many researchers, these are currently out of reach, with suitable services difficult to find and select.

The OCRE project wants to address this need by making it easier to procure both Cloud and EO services. The EO Catalogue is a key result of such a project which aims to create a digital single marketplace for commercial EO and Cloud services for research in Europe.

The Earth Observation Catalogue is a useful tool for EO Funding for Research winners to find validated cloud and digital services which respond to the research and education communities’ requirements, saving institutions the time-consuming and complex process of doing this by themselves. For each of the EO Funding for Research winners, at least three of the EO companies in the OCRE EO Catalogue will be shortlisted to choose from. Then, based on the requirements and criteria of the research project and the response from these suppliers, a provider will be awarded, fulfilling the minimum requirements for a fair procurement.

Find us in the catalogue!